Lavaca-based Pinnacle Communications and Fort Smith-based Newroads Telecom have entered a joint venture agreement to provide voice and data services in the Fort Smith region and surrounding area with a special emphasis on building out their fiber optic network.
The joint venture was announced Wednesday (July 20), and will operate under the name Pinnacle Telecom, leading to an eventual merger of the two local telecommunications providers.
“It’s going to be very good for all of us right now from the employment standpoint, and if you’re a business or resident customer impacted by fiber, you’re going to get the best you can have access to faster, cheaper, and with local service and support,” said Drake Smith, director of sales for Pinnacle Communications, in comments to Talk Business & Politics.
Pinnacle Telecom will retain all of the management and employees from both companies – 60 total, evenly split between the two.
“We’re actually hiring and adding jobs as we go while we’ve kept 100 percent of the employee base from both companies,” Smith said, adding that the two companies serve a combined total of 4,000 customers in business and residential sectors.
While Smith declined to reveal total merger costs and exact management structure, he said the agreement would be as close to 50/50 as possible.
“What we’ve done is we have merged these companies and taken resources from both to allow us to go forward. We are using the management teams from both companies, as well as the technical expertise and capital from both, and are able to move twice as fast together as either one of us could do alone. It is absolutely, positively a partnership between both companies,” he said, adding that Pinnacle Telecom would retain both home offices and add a third at Chaffee Crossing in Fort Smith.
Pinnacle Telecom’s service footprint depends on service type with global capabilities for SIP services (Session Initiation Protocol), which offers a way to deliver telephone lines over an Internet IP connection. PBX (or Private Branch Exchange) service will also be offered globally. It is defined as a telephone system within an enterprise that switches calls between enterprise users on local lines while allowing all users to share a certain number of external phone lines.
For the fiber buildout, areas of service will include Sebastian and Crawford counties in Arkansas and LeFlore and Muskogee counties in Oklahoma. Lastly, through upstream providers, Pinnacle can offer voice and data services “pretty much anywhere in the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma,” Smith said.
Pinnacle Communications has a 60-year history of telecommunications work in Arkansas and Oklahoma, and was the first local exchange carrier in both states to build a complete fiber to the home network, serving every customer within its territories with gig speed. The company has spent the past two years expanding its fiber network into Chaffee Crossing and Fort Smith.
Newroads Telecom also has a long history of providing telecommunications services to the Fort Smith area, including broadband internet, cloud-hosted PBX, dedicated data access, local phone, long distance and a variety of wholesale business solutions.
In announcing the joint venture/merger, Keith Gibson, president of Pinnacle Communications, said the merger was a great fit for both companies, allowing them to reach more customers with much needed advanced broadband services.
“We intend to be a strong and viable competitor, offering affordable high speed broadband and telecommunication products over a state of the art fiber optic platform. Our emphasis will be on service.”
Bill Stuckey, president of Newroads Telecom, said the merger made sense for a lot of reasons.
“These two local companies have been working together for a long time, and we eventually decided that one plus one equaled more than two. It became evident that a merger would enhance the services we are able to offer our customers.”